Tis Returns to Italy! Day 79: Delightfully Distracted on the Way to the Bay
On day 79, I headed towards the Bay of Naples but was delightfully distracted.
After exploring the central city neighborhoods, I headed for the bay today to see what I could find.
As I wandered in the direction of the water, I first stumbled upon the Galleria Umberto I, a large public shopping arcade covered in domed glass. It looks similar to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milano but is far less popular. This one is just as beautiful but seems a little more “lived in” compared to Milano’s shiny jewel. Naple’s galleria was largely filled with locals doing some shopping while Milan’s tourist crowd fills its galleria, snapping photos and eating in its overpriced restaurants.
Next, I wanted to continue walking in the direction of the waterfront but as luck would have it, it began to rain. Seeking shelter, I headed to Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, a former palace that has converted one floor into a museum. I love a good museum but my attention span on art is brief. This museum had a nice collection of art from the 17th to 20th centuries, easily enjoyed in an hour or two.
Pizza Experts in the Pizza Capital of the World
Prior to arriving in Naples, I contacted my pizza-loving friend back in NYC that has been to the city to judge pizza competitions. He connected me with a local pizza photographer that he met during one of his visits. I had been exchanging emails with the photographer, a man named Luciano, who was familiar with the pizzerias of Naples. He offered to meet with me when I arrived in Naples so I texted to see if he was available. He suggested we meet at Piazza San Domenico so I headed in that direction.
As I arrived prior to Luciano, I sat at Caffè San Domenico and ordered a glass of wine. Luciano joined me and began telling me about his love of pizza and which pizzerias were his favorite in Naples. He was fascinating! It is obvious he loves pizza possibly more than anyone I’ve ever met. I admire this quality in a person.
How to Know You’ve Met an Expert
Luciano explained why he loved certain pizzerias. The reasons were not isolated to “they have a great margherita pizza” or “their prosciutto pizza with arugula is the best I’ve ever had”. Instead, he went into great detail on the pizzaioli who own these places and work tirelessly to perfect and improve their pizzas. He described one who had acquired a new oven during the lockdown and really improved on his crust which had been declining in quality over the years. Then he described another who baked his margherita pizzas just a tiny bit longer than others and used a slightly different twist on the red sauce, giving it an edge.
This was the perfect person to learn about not only the pizzerias of Naples, but also the pizzaioli who have perfected the art of Neapolitan pizza. While I had enjoyed the museum earlier, this “Museum of Life” visit with Luciano was far more interesting.